Why Disability Visibility Matters at the Voting Booth

Capitol Hill against a vibrant blue skyElection officials around the country are hard at work getting voters registered and registrations updated as the Nov. 6 General Election approaches. In some states, the deadline for early and absentee voting has already passed. That deadline doesn’t concern me, though. I always vote on Election Day, right there at the polls. Here’s how that works:

  • I’m handed a headset, and a poll worker guides me to a special voting machine equipped with speech software
  • That text-to-speech software translates the candidate selections on the ballot into spoken choices
  • A special keypad enables voters like me, who are blind, to choose our candidates by touch
  • Our selections are confirmed by voice again before the ballot is cast

Some friends are astonished to hear all I have to do to cast my vote. “Isn’t that a pain? Why don’t you just vote absentee?” I answer with a shrug. For me, there’s no substitute for the feel of a voting device in your hand, the sound of your vote actually registering.

And then there’s this: In the not-too-distant past people with disabilities did stay home, not just on voting day, but perpetually. We can never go back to those days, and voting publicly is one way to help ensure we don’t. I like to think it means something for other voters to see someone like me, a citizen with a disability, exercising the same basic right that they do, voting in private without public assistance.

Millions of Americans with disabilities share this ambition. We can’t let others forget about us. One way to do that: let them see us, out there with everyone else, casting a vote in November.


Comments may not reflect Easterseals' policies or positions.

  1. Paula Simpson Says:

    I’m so sorry i got way off base. I don’t care if this isn’t on line, but i would appreciate if you could send me info whom i could contact to get info on just where or if you may offer assistance?

  2. Paula Simpson Says:

    Unfortunately I live in West Virginia. When I moved here I wasn’t aware it is one of the poorest states in the country. I don’t qualify for medicaid with an $1100. a month income which is less than I was earning in 1986 when I was injured. Thank you social security. ADA Says as a disabled person I have the right to homecare, a wheel chair, a ramp etcetera, but they don’t tell you that only means if you rent a landlord can’t stop you from having them, not that the government in any way shape or form is going to provide them. I truly believe our nation has no idea how many of us who didn’t fall under a lawsuit issue and/or may have another source of income are living. Surely those of us below the poverty level are required to build up $1200 – $1800. In medical bills (pure debt),it’s half of that every six months as a spend down. I have enough debt trying to keep up with docter bills and i have household upkeep.Not easy with this income, $1100. a month. I wish some of our liberal journalist would care enough to write about that. I’m going to start paing a co-pay on an electric wheel chair and i can’t afford a ramp or a used hydrolic lift for scooters for the back of my truck, So it looks like at least if I can find someone to reconfigure my furniture I will at least have more use of more of my house then my bed, because other than docter appointments thays where I spend my life, no wi-fi, no tv. Fortunately i have reading glasses from the dollar store and a garage full of used books. My elderly brain damaged and chronic pain riddled mother brings me meals irregularly and water and iced tea. It wouldn’t hurt me to miss a meal or two. I don’t know what you have to offer. I think it’s communistic to allow one small group whose beliefs are so drastic that the specific doctor at the head of the group who influencdd the opiate change across the board even if you’re a vet or have had a horrible crash or have other torturous pain, to include chronic pain and serious acute hospitalized patients in with junkies and druggjes is unconscionable in this day and age. When humans are more humna to their pets, or vets are than doctors are to their patients. How sad and I am one of many who’ve never gotten high from my meds and lost all quality of life. And pain clinics won’t even consider prescribing medical marajuana once legal in our states. How closed minded, uneducated and totally unsympathetic to their patients needs. Our bodies have receptors made just for marajuana. To me it sound like intelligent design and unintelligent physicians.